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The Random Stranger Factor of Child Behavior

Have you ever heard a teacher offer their observations of how bad student behavior has become? How their kids are more unruly this year than in the past?

They’re wrong.

At least in Great Britain they are, where, according to a new long term study, elementary school students “are better behaved within the classroom than in the 1970s”.

The current study claims that pupils are now better behaved than at any time since the 1970s, with the acceleration in the improvement beginning in the mid-1980s and continuing for the subsequent two decades.

The research – A Mass Observation Study of Student and Teacher Behaviour in British Primary Classrooms – was based on the proportion of pupils who were “on-task” (following the teacher’s directions) or “off-task” (not following the teacher’s directions).

“Primary school students have never before been observed to be so well behaved,” concludes Mr Apter, in a study presented to a psychology conference in Glasgow.

Very nice.

Now I’m not a research psychologist, but I wonder if they accounted for all the variables in conducting this study.

My observation was that my students were almost always much better behaved when a stranger with a clipboard was standing in the back of the room. :-)


  1. Betty

    I certainly have my doubts about the study. It also depends on the classroom and particular group of kids. Most teachers will agree that some groups are a lot harder to manage than others.

  2. Tom

    I often think of this site when I hear how bad kids have become compared to the past. I don’t know if the facts are iron clad but it’s nice to hear an alternative view.

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